Hummus & Gym Membership

For some reason, I was craving hummus a few days ago. I’m not a fan of store bought hummus so I decided to make my own for the first time. I used this recipe from Inspired Taste, went off to the store and gathered the ingredients but discovered that a 16 ounce jar of Tahini was 9-effing-dollars at Hannaford. No thank you. I googled a substitute and found that peanut butter would work, which was perfect because I always have a jar of natural no sugar added peanut butter on hand. I followed their recipe to a T, except I replaced the 1/4 cup of Tahini for 2-3 tablespoons of that wonderful natural no sugar added peanut butter, and I didn’t add more olive oil for serving. Ugh, the hummus was so good and so easy. Better than any store bought hummus. TRY IT. I also made Quinoa Stuffed Peppers the same day, but I’ll post that recipe tomorrow.

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Now for random thoughts: I’m debating on a gym membership. I’ve never wanted a gym membership because they’re costly and I’ve never had the extra money for one, and I’ve always preferred exercising at home. I’m three weeks into my new full-time job, and I’m struggling to keep up with my exercise regimen. I tried getting up earlier to exercise but I hated it, and I wasn’t giving it 100% because I was so sluggish. I’m doing my best to exercise a lot on my days off and do less on my work days, but all I’ve been doing on my work days is 15-20 minutes of Yoga or Pilates. Yes, it’s at least something, but to me it is definitely not enough. My plan is to get a membership at HealthLinks, and while it’s expensive, I think it would be worth the money. I would go after work on my way home. I need to do more strength training, and the 10-pound dumbbells aren’t cutting it anymore. I don’t want to keep buying a new, heavier set every month. So, I think a gym membership will be worth it. Also, I heard great things about The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I bought the book the other day on amazon.com, and I’ll follow that program.

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And now, since it’s my day off, I better get my ass moving. Today’s workout: Jillian Michaels’ “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” followed by strength training and body weight exercises. Maybe Pilates a little later if I’m feeling up to it.

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Vegetarian Meatballs & Creamy Avocado Sauce

I used to LOVE a good, creamy Alfredo sauce from my favorite Italian restaurants. I miss it sometimes, and then I remember that almost any Alfredo dish from a restaurant is upwards of 1,000 calories and 60 grams of fat. I found a good alternative that is plentiful in flavor and heart-healthy fats (unlike traditional Alfredo sauce that is full of heavy cream and butter – saturated fat). Main ingredient? Avocados! Avocados ARE high in fat, but they contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as well as potassium, fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6 and folate. My dearest friend, Emily, and I made this sauce last week and I loved it. So I made it again today and paired it with my Vegetarian Meatballs! Florida Avocados were used both times for the sauce, but you could definitely use a California Avocado.

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What you need for the Avocado sauce:

1 Avocado
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 garlic clove
Juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Dash of salt and pepper

Throw everything in a food processor and blend until everything is smooth and combined. Cut up and/or mash the avocado first, which makes blending it a little easier. This makes 2 servings, so you might want to share this with someone, eat the entire batch yourself or wrap it snugly with plastic wrap touching the sauce so that it doesn’t brown. Since there’s lemon juice in the sauce, it will also help it from browning. Mix with hot whole wheat pasta (the sauce can’t really be heated up – avocados don’t do well with heat.)

(Sauce only, nutrition info for pasta not factored in)
Calories: 314
Fat: 27 grams (like I said, heart-healthy fats!)
Carbs: 14 grams
Protein: 9 grams

Now for the Vegetarian Meatballs. It’s weird that I made these because I’ve never had real meatballs, not even when I ate meat. But the idea came to me and I just went with it. They turned out yummy!

1 15.5 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 of a medium sized onion, cut into wedges
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3 handfuls of fresh Kale
1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for blending
Salt and pepper to taste
One egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or old-fashioned oats

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil and saute kale in frying pan. Cover with a lid to allow it to wilt slightly. You might need to add a little water in the pan to keep it from getting too crunchy. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mash the beans with a fork or potato masher. Add the beans, onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, wilted kale, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and a little sprinkle of olive oil in a food processor; blend until smooth. Put this mixture in the bowl you used to mash the beans. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg then add to bean mixture. Finally, add the breadcrumbs or oats and stir well to combine. Form into 8 balls. You can either make them right away or freeze them. I made these yesterday afternoon and froze them, then popped them in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350 degrees, flipping halfway through. This afternoon, I fried them in some olive oil (not calculated in nutrition information), which makes them taste even more awesome, but it increases the calories and grams of fat. Keep that in mind!

(One meatball)
Calories: 135
Fat: 3 grams
Carbs: 19 grams
Protein: 8 grams

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YUM.

Blueberry Quinoa Bake

This morning, I decided to experiment with quinoa. I bought a box of red quinoa from Wegmans a few months ago because I wanted to try it and I’ve heard great things about it. But still, I had never cooked it or tasted it before, so I was unsure how it would turn out. I’ve seen recipes around Pinterest for sweet, breakfast-y quinoa, so I decided to try to throw my own together. And I’m in love! It’s not overly sweet since I put only 2 teaspoons of sugar in the entire thing, so you may want to add more if you want it sweeter.

What you need:

1 7-ounce box red quinoa
2 eggs
3 egg whites (or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites)
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, let them thaw a little)
1 ounce almonds, chopped into halves or thirds

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease 9×12 baking dish. Make quinoa according to package instructions. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar. When quinoa is ready, pour into baking dish then pour egg mixture over it. Add blueberries and almonds and spread everything evenly in dish. Bake 25-30 minutes or until brown and toasty on top. Divide into 12 pieces.

Calories: 106.4
Fat: 3.3 grams
Carbs: 14.3 grams
Protein: 5.4 grams

How beautiful does this look?

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